Virginia Man Brings Weapons to Church After Alarming Online Posts

( — A Virginia man was arrested on Sunday after posting vague online threats to a church before arriving during worship service carrying a loaded handgun and two knives, the Associated Press reported.

According to the Prince William County Police Department, the man, 35-year-old Rui Jiang of Falls Church, was arrested and charged with threatening bodily harm, a felony, and carrying a dangerous weapon in a place of worship, a misdemeanor.

Police were alerted to the threat after someone in Maryland saw Jiang’s “suspicious and concerning online postings.” After receiving the tip, three police departments from Maryland and Virginia launched an investigation leading to Jiang’s arrest in Haymarket, Virginia, about 40 miles west of Washington, DC.

Police began the investigation on Sunday in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, after receiving a tip from a Laurel, Maryland, resident about the online threats that featured images of a specific church.

The investigation quickly identified the Prince William County church and went to Jiang’s home in Fairfax County; however, Jiang was not home.

An off-duty Prince William County Police officer, who had been working an assignment at Park Valley Church in Haymarket, discovered Jiang’s car in the parking lot. The officer coordinated with church staffers who were already suspicious of Jiang.

According to police, Jiang reportedly entered the church through a separate door while services were going on. When he was detained near the entrance, Jiang was carrying a loaded handgun, an extra magazine, and two knives.

The handgun was not reported stolen, and Jiang had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, police said.

Prince William County Police obtained an emergency substantial risk order against Jiang. This order, known as a “red flag” law,” permits authorities to seize the firearms of a person considered to be a danger to himself or others.

Jiang is being held without bond.

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